Facets of a Diamond - Blog

“Now I’m Painting as a Child Again”

“The reason we find nothing to dislike in the drawings made by children is that in them the inherent nature of man finds expression without being thwarted or frustrated.”* That is to say, they are free to express their Muse, their Souls unrestrained.

 But then, “The moment children become self-conscious, their pictures degenerate.” Now they are painting not their Inner Selves, but an external object which must be portrayed “right.” Now their Souls are enchained. Dominated as they are now by the subject, they have become its subject.

Soetsu Yanagi continues: “if an artist follows his inherent nature (which is Buddhahood) … he would find it impossible to produce anything that was not beautiful [I would capitalize – Beautiful] … [E]ven if a man lacks high intelligence or advanced technique, he can still produce objects that are beautiful, although they may at the same time be unskilled. The reason such objects so very often deserve our love is that in them the maker’s inherent Buddhahood is revealed to the observer.”

Well, like a child, I lack “advanced technique;” my paintings, like theirs, are “unskilled;” and they are subject-free. And further, they arise out of my meditating to approach my inherent Buddhahood. Hence, maybe I, like them, am painting without being “self-conscious.”

When I was a child, I painted as a child. And now I’m painting as a child again – but Knowingly.


* Soetsu Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman (New York: Kodansha International, 1978), p. 141.